As a child growing up in Georgia, Kim T. Griswell often felt silenced by the world around her.
“I grew up in the South in a time when kids were still second-class citizens, meant to be seen and not heard, thank you very much,” Griswell said. “And I was female in a very patriarchal culture. So I spent decades in search of my own voice.”
Now Griswell has made it her mission to help others find their voices. Griswell is the prose writer-in-residence for Week Two at the Chautauqua Writers’ Center and her Brown Bag, “In Search of Voice,” will be at 12:15 p.m. Friday on the front porch of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall.
Griswell has a storied career with the Highlights Foundation, which publishes Highlights magazine. She also writes children’s books and leads writing workshops.
Griswell said her lecture is inspired by her childhood and the happiness she found through recognizing the power of her own voice.
“I spent decades in search of my own voice,” Griswell said. “Along the way, I came to the conclusion that what I might offer to the world at large was helping others find their voices as well. I’ve also come to care tremendously about helping readers discover the full range of voices being published today. These are exciting times for readers. There are writers of all colors and cultures sharing the truths of their lives and experiences. Voices are being published that would not have been published in the past.”
The prospect of so many different voices and perspectives in literature is exciting to Griswell. She said by the time she’d finished planning out her Brown Bag lecture, she realized she could have named it “In Search of Voices.”
Griswell said she plans on discussing how the concept of voice applies to writing more generally as well as her own specific journey to finding her own voice.
“I’ll share insights on how budding writers can find their own voices as well as recent brain research that shows why it is critical to share and read voices from many races, cultures and life experiences,” Griswell said. “I’ll also share a few things about the publishing industry that may surprise audience members. I’ll be taking listeners from Georgia to the Spokane Indian Reservation to China and back again.”
Griswell hopes the audience will learn why their voice matters in the world; she thinks voice can teach people “many things about what it means to be human.”
“At a very basic level, voice in writing equates to putting onto the page what the ancient storyteller used to share around the fire: the knowledge that comes from life’s experience, the wisdom one gains along the way, the rhythm and cadence of a particular language and the perspective of a particular mind living in a particular place and time,” Griswell said.